Every project is different
One of the biggest challenges when working as a Document Controller on a project is that every project is different.
Indeed, you could have a project with a Client company and a Contractor company that know each other, have worked together in the past, on a similar technical scope, and the project specifics would still be different from the previous project.
On the Document Control stand-point, it frequently translates to different numbering systems, different lifecycles, different tools, or different procedures, processes, people.
Acknowledge the specifics
One of the ways to overcome typical issues for a new project is to acknowledge the fact that it is going to be different from what you have been doing so far.
Start with a fresh mind and perspective and review all the project specifics. In terms of Document Control, that would be for example: what will be the lifecycle of documents on this project? What will be the big steps in the life of documents? When will they need to be reviewed internally? By a Client? By a third party? And how will they be reviewed (tools, turnaround, traceability of comments, etc).
Do not assume that it is going to be similar to the previous project, and have a pro-active approach.
Clarify the requirements between Client and Contractor
When we hear about a project where Document Control went wrong or where the challenges to overcome were significant, it can very often be traced back to:
- Either the Client requirements were not clear or simply not provided from the start. That causes problems because very often the other entities are discovering requirements along the way, which causes frustration for both parties
- Or the implementation of Client requirements on the Contractor (or sub-contractor) side was not thorough or simply not done, which causes a very high Client dissatisfaction
To make sure that the requirements are clear, the Client’s DC should make sure that they are documented in a clear way and that they are communicated to contractors and third-parties at the ‘request for quotation’ (or ITT) stage and then at contract signature.
The Contractor’s DC should also make sure that those requirements are received, clarified if need be, understood and implemented. This should be done even before the first document is issued, so that all parties can be aligned before the project starts.
Keep the lines of communication open
No project goes perfectly smoothly from start to finish without any hurdle at all. It is the same for Document Control on a project.
Building a relationship with other DCs involved on that project (Client’s DC, Contractors’ DC, Vendors’ DC, etc) is one of the key elements that will allow you to solve any issues that may arise.
Communicating clearly and frequently about the progress, the challenges, the issues and the successes will help anticipate and resolve issues along the way
Other blog articles that might interest you:
KPIs: Monitoring the Performance of Document Control
Roles & Tasks in Document Control
What does your boss expects from you